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Of the 850 species of plants 400 species are native over 300 species are endemic to Hawaii, found only on the Hawaiian island of Maui. (NPS, nd)

HaleakalÄ National Park By Chris Vetrano

"For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore." ~ Mark Twian


Haleakalā National Park Haleakalā National Park was established on August 1, 1916. “The park encompasses 230,000 acres and ranges from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet. Kilauea, the world's most active volcano” (Uhler, 2007), there are also 34,294 acres of Humid Subtropical Lowlands to Subalpine Desert. Haleakala National Park contains a great diversity of unique plant communities. “Haleakalā, a giant shield volcano, forms the eastern bulwark of the island of Maui. According to legend, it was here, in the awe-inspiring basin at the mountain's summit, that the demigod Maui snared the sun, releasing it only after it promised to move more slowly across the sky. Haleakalā means "house of the sun"; the park encompasses the basin and portions of the volcano's flanks.” (National Geographic, nd) The land was formed by ancient volcanos the soil is nutrient rich and contains several ecosystems within varying climate zones. “Ecosystems are very diverse, varying from rain forest to desert scrub and coastal strand to alpine. A spectrum of tropical environments, ranging from persistently or seasonably wet to dry, is found in Hawaii, which explains the floral diversity. Volcanism encourages the emergence of diversity, resulting in a mosaic of successional and climax stages throughout the biosphere reserve.” (UNESCO, nd) “The trail from Paliku through Kaupo Gap traverses a unique ecotone ranging from mesic koa forest to dry shrubland to alien coastal jungle.” (NPS, nd) Another very unique feature of the park is the Biological reserve that was created. “The upper Kīpahulu Valley is a biological reserve (no public access) home to a vast profusion of flora and fauna, including some of the world's rarest birds, plants, and invertebrates. Some insects and plants evolved in the Kīpahulu Valley and live nowhere else.” (National Geographic, nd) This region is fenced to prevent goats, pigs and deer from eating rare endangered plants. These animals have destroyed much of the vegetation growing outside the reserve. (NPS, nd) Interestingly, with such diversity of eco systems comes a wide variety of plants, which climate change is slowly affecting. (Krushelnycky, Loope, Giambelluca, Starr, Drake, Taylor, Robichaux, 2012) Aside from the iconic Silversword, (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) there are many other species that are endangered. “Haleakalā National Park has more endangered species than any other park in the NPS, including species that are listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service but not native to the park.” (NPS, nd) “Research by scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory makes Kīlauea one of the best understood volcanoes in the world, shedding light on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and the beginnings of planet Earth.” (NPS, nd) Here are some more interesting facts about volcanos within the park: “Estimated Age of On-land Eruptions - Numerous small lava flows in past 30,000 years; slopes of volcano mantled by lava flows 700,000 to 150,000 years in age.” (USGS, nd) “Estimated Age of Inception of East Maui Volcano - About 2.0 million years ago.” (USGS, nd)


Haleakalā National Park The plants that inhabit the island have had many ecological obstacles to overcome through the evolution of Maui. It’s amazing that they managed to flourish but when you consider the amount of time they had, the reality of it comes into focus. It also says a lot about microclimates within the park, they were conducive for the seed germination of many plant species. “Survivors had only a tiny finite land area to occupy, and only a small fraction of that had a climate, temperature, and exposure suitable niche habitat. These also arrived as only a few individuals, greatly subject to problems of inbreeding. This may have been the greatest problem, for if a species continues to inbreed fatal defects accumulate. Without new individuals to remedy this problem some groups commonly experience many mutations. But over time these mutations allowed successful survivors to establish in the many tiny various microhabitats.” (NPS, nd) According to Gurevitch “A population’s extinction probability is estimated as the fraction of replicate populations that can be expected to go extinct.” (Gurevitch, Scheiner, Fox, 2006) Invasive plants are a problem all over the world and in Hawaii it is no different. Invasive plants destroy the balance of an ecosystem by out preforming the local indigenous plants. “Invasive nonnative plants like fireweed, telegraph weed, and pine trees threaten to invade vulnerable native plant communities, destroying ancient plant assemblages and habitat for native birds. Park staff are actively managing these species to preserve pristine native eocsystems in the crater, frontcountry and the Kipahulu Valley Biological Reserve.” (NPS, nd) “The shrubland hosts ancient ohelo, pukiawe, and geraniums, with remnant pockets of shady 'ohia and sandalwood ('iliahi) groves.” (NPS, nd) One of the good things about the feral goats and deer, is they can help minimize the invasive plant species, if a program were started, I am sure they could be put to good use. I recall my goats eating the, Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) on my farm in South Florida, where it is also an invasive species. Here is a List of Invasive Plants found in Haleakalā National Park: 

Bromus tectorum Native to Europe Family: Poaceae Common Name: “Cheatgrass”

Oenothera stricta Native to Chile and Argentina Family: Onagraceae Common Name: “Evening Primrose” “Chilean Evening Primrose”

Trifolium arvense Native to Eurasia Family: Fabaceae Common Name: “Rabbit’s-foot Clover” Bidens alba Native to Florida, South America, and the West Indies Family: Asteraceae Common Name: “Beggar’s tick” “Spanish Needles”

Heterotheca grandiflora Native to California, Arizona, and Baja California, Mexico Family: Asteraceae Common Name: “Telegraph Plant”

Rubus Argutus Native to Central and Eastern United States Family: Rosaceae Common Name: “Prickly Florida Blackberry” “Florida Blackberry”

Cirsium vulgare Native to Eurasia Family: Asteraceae Common Name: “Bull Thistle”

Senicio madagascarensis Native to Madagascar and Southern Africa Family: Asteraceae Common Name: “Fireweed”


Haleakalā National Park 

Cortaderia jubata Native to South America. Family: Poaceae Common Name: “Pampas Grass”

Ulex europaeus Native to Western Europe Family: Fabaceae Common Name: “Gorse”

Clidemia hirta Native to tropical America Family: Melastomataceae Common Name: “Koster’s Curse”

Hedychium gardnerianum Native to the Himalayas Family: Zingiberaceae Common Name: “Kahili Ginger”

Tibouchina herbacea Native to South America Family: Melastomataceae

Angiopteris evecta Native to Malaysia, Polynesia, and Old World Tropics Family: Marattiaceae Common Name: “Mule’s Foot Fern”

Sphaeropteris cooperi Native to Northern Australia Family: Cyatheaceae Common Name: “Australian Tree Fern”

Schinus terebinthifolius Native to Brazil Family: Anacardiaceae Common Name: “Christmas Berry” “Wilelaiki” “Brazilian Pepper Tree” (NPS, nd)

References Gurevitch, J., Scheiner, S. M., & Fox, G. A. (2006). Population Structure, Growth, and Decline. In The ecology of plants (p. 139). Sunderland: Sinauer. Krushelnycky, P. D., Loope, L. L., Giambelluca, T. W., Starr, F., Starr, K., Drake, D. R., Taylor, A. D. and Robichaux, R. H. (2013), Climate-associated population declines reverse recovery and threaten future of an iconic high-elevation plant. Global Change Biology, 19: 911–922. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12111 National Geographic (n.d.). Haleakala National Park - National Geographic. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/nationalparks/haleakala-national-park/


Haleakalā National Park U.S. National Park Service (n.d.). Invasive Plants of Haleakalā National Park. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nps.gov/hale/naturescience/upload/InvasivePlants.pdf U.S. National Park Service (n.d.). Plants - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service). Retrieved October 26, 2013, from http://www.nps.gov/hale/naturescience/plants.htm U.S. National Park Service (n.d.). Plan Your Visit - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/index.htm U.S. National Park Service (n.d.). Volcanoes Are Monuments to Earth's Origin, Evidence That its Primordial Forces Are Still at Work - Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (U.S. National Park Service). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nps.gov/havo/naturescience/volcanoes-are-monuments.htm U.S. National Park Service (n.d.). Ungulate Threats - Haleakalā National Park (U.S. National Park Service). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nps.gov/hale/naturescience/ungulatethreats.htm Uhler, J. W. (n.d.). Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Information Page. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.hawaii.volcanoes.national-park.com/info.htm UNESCO (n.d.). UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?code=USA+32&mode=all USGS (n.d.). East Maui volcano (Haleakala), Hawai`i. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanoes/haleakala/


Haleakalā National Park